New tool determines whether a Twitter account is bot or not

Bot or Not

Enter a Twitter handle in the bot test to see whether it appears human or automated.

A journalism class at The New School in New York has created a tool that determines whether a Twitter account is curated by human or bot. Assistant journalism professor Heather Chaplin enlisted The New York Times’ Aron Pilhofer and WYNC’s John Keefe to work with students on analyzing the “botfestation of the Web” by isolating criteria that would predict whether Twitter accounts are automated or hand-curated. They tracked 179 stories from Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and TechCrunch, tweeted across the Web over 79,000 times by more than 18,000 distinct Twitter users.

Chaplin explains how she enlisted Pilhofer and Keefe:

The back story is I’m starting a journalism program at New School and desperately wanted Aron and John to teach – so I took them out and got them drunk and pleaded my case. They claim it wasn’t in their drunken states that they agreed, but rather in a weakened, hung over state the next morning that they found they could no longer resist. The class was this past fall – but they just posted their results and the program to determine whether one is a bot or not over the weekend.

The @nytimes account is identified as “probably a bot,” which it (usually) is.
The @Poynter Twitter account is tagged as “probably a human,” which is correct.

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  • Michael Carasik

    They told me I’m probably a bot (which I’m not).

  • Aron Pilhofer

    It’s public, but is severely rate-limited by the Twitter API (and in need of a little… ahem… error handling). Internal server error right now… oops. I’ll need to fix that. 

  • Dave J. (Scoop0901)

    oops, sorry … missed the link [middle-aged eyes]

  • Dave J. (Scoop0901)

    SO when does it go public?